Why are there no ATS-style cholis for the plus-busted?

topic posted Tue, June 12, 2007 - 8:39 AM by  Miss Boo
I'm a plus-busted dance (I love that phrase, lol!) ... and the typical open back ATS choli does NOT support me enough. I NEED to wear a bra under it, period, end of story.

For years now I've been wearing cholis with backs, and, it sucks :( But the reason I do, is because I can't find (and have never seen) a modified version of the ATS choli... for biggest chested dancers. And, I am surprised at this.

Am I missing something.... or is there someone or some place out there that does make cholis like this, so that dancers like myself, can still have that classical open back look, but still have it cover a bra? I mean, it would seem to me that it could totally be done... and if I could sew, I'd try to make one myself, but I can't sew (trust me on that one) well enough to even try making a piece like that. I keep hoping I'll find someone who CAN sew -- has maybe made one of these, or someone who sells them.

Anyone have any leads for me on this? I'll be your new best friend at this rate :)

posted by:
Miss Boo
New York
  • I hear ya! I've actually got a shirt that I was thinking of altering to look more like the cholis. It is a crushed velvet material with short sleeves and round neck. I was thinking of cutting straight down from the front of the neckline towards the center of the bra. trim the extra fabric and sew into a v-neck. This way I can control how far it goes down because I have cleavage a-plenty and don't always want too much showing. I think that I can then follow the new line up over the shoulders and down the back, cutting away the center fabric to open it up. I will be wearing a coin bra over it so I don't have to worry about how much fabric I leave in the back but if you wanted to wear just the choli then cut the fabric only as much as you need to cover your bra straps and leave the band of the choli wide enough to cover the bra band. I haven't actually tried this yet but it's on my to-do list. Makes sense?
    • This is EXACTLY what I was thinking of as far as design goes, Margaret!!! Why in the world nobody has made something like this, is beyond me. I'm sorry, but, plus sized chests + no bra + dancing ?? Errr.... no. Not for me at least. And there's no way I'm the only one out there like this .... nuh uh :)
      • Unsu...
        you are not alone.........
        • Oh thank goodness. Me and my big chest feel so... alienated :)
          • Unsu...
            I feel like I can't wear a choli without a coin bra over it, or a coin bra without a choli under it. Let's face it, we are just too booblylicious for the tribal
            • Oh Sandee... I hear ya, girl. I would NEVER wear a choli sans bra. I saw that the nice woman from Flying Skirts claimed her cholis were as supportive as a bra, and I actually have one of those tops... and.... no. Maybe for other women, but not moi. Hello... 36 DD? I need under wire and a nice, 3-hook back. Sadly... this makes for problems as far as costuming goes. Makes me sad, too, because I see lots of Goddess-y shaped dancers, and I know they're in the same boat as me. I keep wondering why one of them hasn't opened a shop for us :)
              • Unsu...
                Yeah, I'm a 36DD too......I do have one reeeally nice tribal bra that Liora made for me.......she's plus-busted too, so she feels our pain.......i THINK it would probably hold me in/up, BUT i still haven't mustered up the guts to wear it without a choli yet......i have worn cholis without the bra, because the troupe decided that's what we'd wear, but i don't feel supported AT ALL......i would pay GOOD money for a decent, supportive choli..........
                • J
                  offline 8
                  I never really tried cholis beacuse I automatically assumed my 32Ds would look to droopy in them! That would be great if someone just took a bra and covered it with fabric to look like a choli! Leave the straps and the back closure just cover the front! Or maybe they should just sew in some cups.... it can't be that hard to do!..... except i can't sew!
                  • This is the maximum depth. Additional responses will not be threaded.
                    in my experience, the cups are completely useless without the accompanying straps, underwires or what-have-you to do the REST of the job.......droopage is not pretty..........neither is bounce-age.......we did a particularly bouncy choreo once, taped it during practice, and IMMEDIATELY revised our costuming upon watching the tape, because there was a whooooole lotta bouncing going on.........yikes......
                  • This is the maximum depth. Additional responses will not be threaded.
                    See now those sound like good ideas to me, too.

                    But to be honest, I'd just like to see a nice black choli -- one that looks like those open back ATS ones, that has a back that is open but modified to cover a bra. All that would mean, really, would be that that thin tie at the bottom, would have to come up a little, and not be so thin. If those ties were wider, one could hide the bra under it.

                    Or... a nice black choli with a simple, low back neck-line -- like a v-neck, except in the back. I can't sew, but this doesn't seem hard. I have dresses that have dipping backs, and I can still wear a bra with those, ya know? Makes no sense to me :(
                    • Yes, and hopefully I can modify this shirt. If it don't work out it won't matter becuase I never wear it anymore anyway. My new troupe "OhMaya" will be making it's debut performance in July at a dance festival so I have to concentrate on getting ready for that, but once that's covered, I'll work on the shirt and try to remember to take pics of the progress in case someone wants to try it.
                    • J
                      offline 8
                      I was thinking the same thing as Miss Boo. But the problem with just making the ties a little thicker and still allowing them to tie in the back is that at the tie point you will still see the bra. So I thought instead of ties there should be either a hook closure or maybe a small lace-up corset part that would cover the bra. The sides of the back would have to be adjusted to cover more back since it would be hard to find a bra where the straps sit wide on the shoulders.

                      Another idea is that I have this shock-absorber sports bra which is awesome for support, and not flattening since it has extra lining on the inside that gives support, but follows the natural shape of the breast almost like a cup. they call it structural seaming. But it helps alot in not squishing you. Well it would be great to put some "sports bra" like lining in the choli that would cover the breasts and go up into the shoulder for support and then you can tie it in the back. Does that make sense?

                      Now I hope someone goes off to make it!
  • Unsu...
    42DD here, and I have the same problem. My solution was to buy long sleeved cholis, cut the sleeves to 3/4 length, and use the cut off piece of fabric to add to the back right above the tie. Covers the bra strap perfectly, and sill has the classic open back choli look.
  • I haven't tried this, but it sounds like it may work even for the most sewing impaired.

    Create a rectangular tube of fabric to use as a "back of the bra" cover. You would sew a tube out of the fabric of your choice, something pretty because you would be able to see it. You could also use the sleeve or leg of an older garment as long as it was a fairly rectangular shape. You would slip the tube over the back of the bra before putting it on, I would think on the side that has the hooks, then hook the bra to the loops and slide the tube over all of the back from strap to strap. At that point you could pin the ends inside if you want, or put snaps on the ends if you are feeling really daring.

    The choli would go over the bra and then it would be tied over the tube. The only concern would be that in order for this to work , the back sides of the choli would have to cover the shoulder straps of the bra.

    In theory it sounds like it should work, but since I haven't made or worn one, I don't know for sure. I could try to draw and scan a picture if anyone would like more details.

    Oh, and a cool sock would probably work too!!
  • I think that part of the problem is that with larger busted ladies, not only does everyone have different shapes and sizes, everybody
    wants a different "look" size fits all is impossible!

    Ive made a few dance tops now, and i'd have to say that the best results come with finding a bra that fits and sewing it into the garment, or building the
    garment over the bra. It's just too much work to build the garment to fit the boobs. :( Even if they aren't large, sometimes the top just won't be flattering.

    I feel your pain! I also have a tiny ribcage which makes things even more difficult. I ENVY the flat chested! *sighs*
    • Just had this thread sent to me by one of your number here.
      She said she had already tried the best, but somone sugested writing me me. And she sent me pictures, and said about what you have said here - that no choli gives support for larger chests. Something bothers me about this theory though - it has a basic flaw. Almost all these 'off the rack' cholis being offered and discussed are stretch cholis.

      I make cholis, for plus sized women. I make them from woven fabric, with darts, and precisely tailored patterns to crete a specific result. However, the person writing me seemed very concerned about fitting features that are only possible with stretch fabrics, and no, stretch fabrics are never going to give much support. So what you need to do is consider what you are really wanting, and what it requires to get it.

      When I started making these, it was mostly to fit my plus sized friend in the SCA, who you can see there in the pictures.(She made me cut her head off in the early pics, but relented as she started to feel more confident and beautiful in her garb). The purpose was to eliminate another layer of clothing in her summer garb, and I made the pattern to replace a bra. This can't be done with a stretch fabric, and since most sellers are seeking to minimize costs by offerering only 3 sizes - small, medium, large - with a rare one offering extra large, they are limited to stretch fabrics to make that work. This means that most people get used to seeing the sleeves to lay right against the skin all the way down, no wrinkles in the armholes, etc. They start to expect that.
      However, if you look at authentic cholis, they are made from woven fabric. They wrinkle a bit in the armhole. They are not uber-fitted to the arm. They have to be altered from one person to another, like a fine suit, because they are not made to fit large ranges of size per item. Even most bras have a seam in them, where a dart has been put in to create a better fit. There are ways to work the dart out of a pattern for a smaller chest, but you can't have a flat front and fit a round shape without using stretch fabric, and if it stretches to fit, it also stretches and gives down.
      If you want a garment that supports, you will need to re-think what your requirements are, literally down to the very fabric of the peice. If you want it to do more than the minimum of cover and look pretty, if you want it to go a step beyond and give shape and support, you need to move up to a more structured garment, and look at woven, tailored items.

      "It's just too much work to build the garment to fit the boobs."
      Not completely, it's just not easy enough to make it mass-produceable, and therefore less profitable. So very few people try to do so. It's another reason I'm not making mine by the thousands - I can premake them to bra sizes, but there's a limit. One obstacle I've tried to hurdle is that to outsource this pattern, I will need to actually have EACH size manufactured, and each size must be a run of at least a hundred for them to bother. So unless I can get 100 42DD, and 100 46DD, and 100 42DDD, and then 100 46DDD, (that's the maximum size variance and still fit well) and so on, ... and I have patterns ranging from 28A to 52F. This, granted, is after several years of making different patterns and tweaking them, etc and after spending tens of thousands of dollars on the education to do so.

      What you are needing is not simple. A simple garment won't really give you what you really need. IT does exist, but you have to be willing to look at it differently. My Dad could hear that a Rolls Royce was the height of quality, but being used to work trucks and mustangs, he could never get past the look. But if you really need something that runs and drives like a Rolls Royce, you can't settle for the muscle car or a F250 truck, so you have to start thinking differently about it.
      Just something to consider after one more conversation about 'but that's not a real ATS choli.'
      • ((lurker here))
        Angel, you made some good points. I've avoided buying any choli -even though I'm not "plus busted"- for various & *containment* being the primary ones. Now that I've read through your post, I know better what I want and what has to happen to get it.
        • And it is something you can do yourself, if you dont mind making a lot of tests. The OLD fat chance choli pattern was a decent start if you had no other pattern - you just have to split the triangle that goes on the bottom, add it to each side, smooth it out into a good curve, add a bottom band, make a test of the pattern in a good solid but not too solid cotton *similar to what you'll make the final choli in*, do the 'pinch and mark' all over it where you want to edit it, draw all that on the pattern, then make another test, repeat until you have what you really want, and be sure you NEVER throw out your previous version. Mark each pattern peice on each test as Test 1 front, Test 2 front, etc until you are sure you are happy. And be aware that you'll get it all made in your favorite fabric, go dance in it, then decide, 'ya know, I could do this next time'. I got mine 'done', then sold a few of my old ones, went to class and saw someone IN an old one and decided I liked how it laid on her better, went back to an older version and made it deeper cut, etc.
          It's a lot of work. You'll have to really be careful. but it is IMMEASURABLY worth it. One you have a good pattern, it's like being married to a good guy - you can stop thinking about this whole search and just enjoy. You see new fabric, and you can say 'I'm gonna go make one out of that!' Granted, if you don't sew at all.... but it's worth learning, too. I have a buddy right now who doesn't sew much, who comes over when we have time and she's learning to use my serger and what makes her choli fit. (I think she is, at least... and yup, she's a DD, too.She's the one that had my old choli!) Soon she'll be making her own patterns, I'm sure.
      • WOOO!

        thanks for saying this!

        I also sew for plus size women. IT is just as hard to sew for a plus size woman as it is for a "thin" woman. Boobs all come in different shapes and sizes. no two boobs are the same. I know this, because mine are two different sizes... eheheh...

        I prefer sewing woven cloth choli tops. Though, I wear a stretch choli myself, its because I havent had time to fit and pin and tuck a woven fabric one to my shape.

        My current "project" is to make halter tops for women with big boobs! no tie behind the neck crap!

        so yah... people dont understand the gussets, and how they work, and how much more dance movement you have with them. Darts and pleats and gathers are what make things work. my boobs arent flat, and I cant wear something that is a flat pannel of fabric either!
        • Unsu...
          I would LOOOOVE to have a decent halter that doesn't kill my neck!
          • the key is to do a cross tie in the back... BUT... there are some "points" that I am tryin to figure out... argh... LOL...

            I've worn mine arround the house for hours... my "test" halter...

            its got sooo many new sewn marks and this and that and more of this... its horrible looking, but ohhh sooo comfortable =)

            I will be sure to announce when I have figured out how to draft a pattern for anyone... =) not just myself... =) AHAHAH

            I even have shiney vinyl.... black...
      • Thank you AngelDMort! You answered this like I was going to almost word for word!!!!!!!!!!!!

        To get the best fit, you MUST go with a woven fabric - the stretch simply cant support a fuller bust. One size does not fit all and I am always tweaking women's cholis because they simply dont fit everyone. The gusset under the arm is there for ease of arm movement in the dance and you have to have that extra bit under the arm - it can be eased up on a bit with stretch fabric, but not with woven.

        I have been trying to work out a choli pattern for the larger busted woman, and you are right, to get enough of each size will cost a small fortune, so I remain creating custom cholis. What works best so far for me has been the "princess" seam and a wider band around the underbust. Sometimes a built in cup works if that is required. I dont like the ready made choli patterns for the larger woman. My pet peeve is that bra and choli sitting closer to the knees than to the collar bone where they belong!! I have also started telling ladies to send me thier bra and I will decorate it for them and it will retain its' support. It will also not look like a typical bra that is just covered with some coins. Not cheap, but well worth it!

        And its a sad truth, that the bigger one is, the harder to fit. The curves all over the place and regular patterns cant accomadate this fact. There isnt enough money in the world to make that a lucrative business! (there are not enough plus size choli wearers to make it possible) Everything has to cost more - but it is possible to use what you've got and to look your best!
  • I wear a 36DDD and a friend of mine helped me make a beautiful choli that totally supports the girls. Here's a link to the pic...

    It isn't backless, it has a full back. At first, we made it to have a lace up front, but that didn't support me, the girls just kept falling out of the bottom. Now, I tie the front and it is perfect! Here's a link to the pattern we used,

    We made this choli but with some alterations. We didn't use the bottom piece (just because I have a short torso and don't like to shorten it even more), and we added two simple panels to the back to make it a full back. We just cut them last to fit. With the back on it, we didn't need the ties that it shows anymore. Now, the only thing we would have done differently is make the front pieces that are supposed to cross in front of each other have a longer strip of fabric to tie with. But we didn't know I was going to tie it, so this would be a great modification to it as well.

    I know this is a different idea from what you were hoping for (the backless choli) but it is a great solution. And you can have a choli in any color and style of fabric once you get it down. I highly suggest using an old sheet or pillow case for fabric to make a test choli first. Once it fits and everything works, take it apart and use it as a pattern. Hope this helps!
    • "the girls just kept falling out of the bottom."
      Deeper darts and a bottom band!

      And 'containment' - if you make sure the bottom dart is snug enough to hold them up, you can adjust the neckline so it hold them IN. Angie can almost stand on her head without neckline poppage. Makes backbends more secure.
      • Hey Angel? What's a "dart" ??
        • Dart - a place where the fabric get pinched in, like cutting out a triangle so that spot A is smaller than spot B because WE have spots that are bigger than nearby spots. If you have a piece of fabric across your chest, and there's that loose bunch of fabric under the 'girls', you mark where your ... ummm... point? is, then pinch the fabric in underneath so that it lays smooth to the bottom, and then you mark the fold lines. Ideally, it will make a triangle shape with a slight curve to the sides.
          If you cut that out, (with seam allowances) and sew it up, the fabric (hopefully) creates that nice curve under the boob and you don't pop out the bottom. A bottom band makes it WAY more comfy. And you have to have the darts come up higher and be snugger to create 'support'. Basically, you are making the fabric person shaped and then the boobs just sit in the shelf you've created. actually, the hard part isn't getting the boobs up, it's keeping them from falling out the top, and making it comfy enough that it's not cutting into your underarms. Which is why you make a billion test cholis.
          Yeah, it's actually more complicated, (and it's easier if you use a drafting method instead of a draping method like that, but that requires a sloper-a starter pattern that you make so everything you make with it fits) and you have to fiddle with it to get rid of the little points that always want to form when you fold hte fabric, but if you start with a pattern that already has darts, you can just adjust them so that they fit snug like a choli rather than loose like a regular shirt. Most bought fitted blouse patterns for woven fabric have darts, or the darts have been turned into a seam. I put my underbust darts into the center seam, then I got greedy and wanted "give him a stiffy boobs' since I didn't have any before, so I added darts coming in from the sleeve seam - then I had to adjust eh sleeve hole, etc... but I got da cleavage now! And they don't fall out as long as the neckline is fitted properly.

          Figure, you can start with a really crappy pattern, see a baggy spot, pinch the fabric in and mark it, (on a seam, hopefully) and mark the pattern to match. Then you have a slightly better pattern. Then you see another spot that could be better, you adjust the pattern, and it's an even better pattern. Eventually you have one that fits you just right, and then you can start playing with other necklines, other sleeves, other ... everything, and you have a good starting point so you know it has a better chance of fitting early on.
          Can ya tell I had sugar wit ma lunch?
          Back to Vista training:::sigh:::... any other questions will have ta wait till next break.
  • *raises hand* Yup, I'm in this club. The "3D Club" as I like to call it... *chuckles*...

    No seriously, I never call it that. But yes, I'm a 3D (34 DDD), and quite honestly even though their costumes are beyond beautiful, I can never see myself actually working out well in some of the tops I see other fellow dancers wearing. A: Too teeny, not enough coverage, and B: too flimsy, not enough support. And I definitely need huge amounts of support! Hell, I'm hardly ever *not* wearing a bra of some kind, even when I sleep. It's just more comfortable to have some kind of support on than not.

    I already have enough problems (the heavy chest causes breathing problems aka diminished lung capacity, and it makes some moves like lifts and undulations are hard to do), I don't wanna have to be bummed out about missing out on really cool costume options, either. :(
    • Dude... it really bothers me that a woman online who makes ATS style tops that are "as good as a bra", emailed me back to tell me she couldn't explain to me how to put them on". She makes these things... and she can't explain how they're worn? Um...

      .... what's wrong with this picture.

      And she has a description written for how a "bigger busted lady" can modify the bra to fit under her choli, but it doesn't make sense. So I asked her for a visual, and... she couldn't give me one.

      Then she told me she was a big believer in trying something on before you bought it. Which means I can't get one of her tops because she's in another state.

      Costuming should not be this stressful. No way Jose. Nuh uh.
      • how the hell does that work???

        cant tell you how to put it on???


        sometimes I wonder...
        • Now, I will say, it can be a little tricky when you first get a new choli and put it on the first time - I still tie and re-tie mine a few times before I'm set enough that I don't have to adjust the top tie. I always have the person put her arms through the sleeves, get teh choli up mostly where it should be, then you have to lift 'the girls' up and into the cups. Ideally, you have someone there to tie your top tie, then you hold the bottom ties in back and jiggle around a bit so get things in place. then you tie your bottom tie snug but not so that it cuts in, and wiggle some more. Then you may want to adjust your top tie.
          Once I have my choli on so that it feels right, I never untie that top tie again. I knot it, and from then on, I can put it over my head, insert da girls, and tie my bottom tie. You can tie the bottom yourself without the choli slipping or sliding. It's just almost impossible to tie up behind your head that way, because in lifting your arms, you pull the girls up, and the choli front, without it being secured, so it moves instead of letting you move under it. Real pain.
          Yes, I still go running though the house holding my new choli to my front yelling 'Somebody tie me!' on occasion. Although now, I can look at my current cholis and just try to tie the new one like the old ones.

          Is that any help? I'd say write me and we'll talk choli orders, but 1) I'm not here post commercials, that would be tacky, and 2) I'm already putting people off till next month after Border Raids, and I'm always behind so I wouldn't want to have you waiting on me. But any time you want to PM me, I do barter, too, and if nothing else, maybe I can give you some pointers with your current pattern.
          What kind of pattern do you have now?
          • Hi,

            On the subject of ordering cholis online. I live in the UK where we measure for bras differently.So how do we go about deciding whether we are plus busted or not in the first place?

            I'm absolutely itching to order some of your beautiful cholis, but I daren't!! I've asked no end of online bra shops, lingerie suppliers, fitters, etc. and used half a dozen different so called 'size-converters' and they all give me a different answer.

            Sooooo, the big question is - how do all you ladies measure yourself for bra's/cholis. How do you work out what size you are/need in US sizing?

            I will promise, that if and when they invent lipo transfer, I will be first in line to donate all my excess to augmentation charities for the non-boobylicious, if one of you will tell me the magical formula ;-)

            Rachel x
            • I have sent a few choli tops to the UK...

              I do all of mine from measurements, and use the bra size as a "guide". I try to sew with a basic pattern, that has been drafted to the customer's size.

              It's hard work, but it works!
              • Hi Angelia,

                The problem i've got is that i've been told i'm a very 'strange' shape.

                I have big boobs, no doubt about that one, but the rest of me is isn't!!

                I'm sure this doesn't apply to your skills, but the couple of tops i've had made, even though I sent measurements, were big enough to go over my chest, but I could have pegged out the ribcage/waist bit and use them as tents!!

                When I complained - they said that they had never had anyone else have the problem and that I either measured wrong or I was a 'non-standard' fitting - go figure, huh?


                • Unsu...
                  i have that issue....i'm plus-busted but i'm a size 8.......Donna at Desert Dancer made me a choli with a large front and a small/medium back and probably fits me better than my other cholis, but i'd still like the option of wearing the bra with one........
  • Unsu...
    I haven't tried that with a stretch choli BUT what I did with my mirrored choli was create a band around the bottom that was a also a back of the bra cover. It was a sheath and you thread your bra straps inside, clasp em then tie the ties.

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